saiah 7, New English Bible
Ahaz Receives a Sign
7:1 During the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle, but they were unable to prevail against it.
7:2 It was reported to the family of David, “Syria has allied with Ephraim.” They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. 7:3 So the Lord told Isaiah, “Go out with your son Shear-jashub and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. 7:4 Tell him, ‘Make sure you stay calm! Don’t be afraid! Don’t be intimidated by these two stubs of smoking logs, or by the raging anger of Rezin, Syria, and the son of Remaliah. 7:5 Syria has plotted with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah to bring about your demise. 7:6 They say, “Let’s attack Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it. Then we’ll set up the son of Tabeel as its king.” 7:7For this reason the sovereign master, the Lord, says:
“It will not take place;
it will not happen.
7:8 For Syria’s leader is Damascus,
and the leader of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will no longer exist as a nation.
7:9 Ephraim’s leader is Samaria,
and Samaria’s leader is the son of Remaliah.
If your faith does not remain firm,
then you will not remain secure.”
7:10 The Lord again spoke to Ahaz: 7:11 “Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.” 7:12 But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put the Lord to a test.” 7:13 So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God? 7:14 For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel. 7:15 He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right. 7:16 Here is why this will be so: Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate. 7:17 The Lord will bring on you, your people, and your father’s family a time unlike any since Ephraim departed from Judah – the king of Assyria!”
7:18 At that time the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 7:19 All of them will come and make their home in the ravines between the cliffs, and in the crevices of the cliffs, in all the thorn bushes, and in all the watering holes. 7:20 At that time the sovereign master will use a razor hired from the banks of the Euphrates River, the king of Assyria, to shave the head and the pubic hair; it will also shave off the beard. 7:21 At that time a man will keep alive a young cow from the herd and a couple of goats. 7:22 From the abundance of milk they produce, he will have sour milk for his meals. Indeed, everyone left in the heart of the land will eat sour milk and honey. 7:23 At that time every place where there had been a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels will be overrun with thorns and briers. 7:24 With bow and arrow men will hunt there, for the whole land will be covered with thorns and briers. 7:25 They will stay away from all the hills that were cultivated, for fear of the thorns and briers. Cattle will graze there and sheep will trample on them.
Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most read verses in Christian churches. Matthew 1:22-23 uses this verse as a prophecy that is confirmed by the birth of Jesus. I have included this verse because many Christians have never read the verse in context and because many Christians have never read the New English Bible translation.
First of all, the New English Bible translation does not use the word “virgin.” The reason is because the Hebrew Masoretic Text does not use the word virgin but instead uses a word that means young woman. The young woman might have been a virgin, but she is not clearly defined as a virgin by this word. A link to the New English Bible online is shown below with its explanation. Click Isaiah, then Chapter 7, and click on footnote 26 to the right of the words “young woman.”
If the ancient Hebrew text used “young woman” then why does Matthew use “virgin?” Because the author of Matthew used the Greek Septuagint text and not the Hebrew Masoretic text. The Greek Septuagint (referred to as LXX – Roman numeral 70 – in the notes I refer to below) does mistranslate the Hebrew word for “young woman” as “virgin.”
Irregardless of whether or not it refers to a young woman or a virgin, the prophecy in no way refers to Jesus’ birth thousands of years later. First of all, nowhere in the bible is Jesus ever referred to as Immanuel. The word Immanuel is only used in the 2 verses mentioned and in Isaiah 8:8 (after a prophetess gives birth to a child). Secondly, the context of this story shows that this is an immediate sign for Ahaz that his enemies will be destroyed. Why would Ahaz get a “sign” that he would never see? Where in the New Testament does it explain how eating “sour milk and honey” will help him know how to reject evil and do good (v 15)? Verse 16 states that the land of Ahaz’s enemies will be laid waste before the child knows how to reject good and evil as described in verse 15. What good does this do Ahaz if that child is born thousands of years later?
I first read John Wesley’s notes years ago before they were available on the internet. I can remember a sharp pain in my stomach. I wanted to believe what I was always told, but the honesty inside me and the desire for truth lead me to realize that what I had always been told was not accurate.
I will be dealing with other alleged prophecies in the next few weeks.
New English Bible Translator’s Notes for the words Young Woman
“6tn Traditionally, “virgin.” Because this verse from Isaiah is quoted in Matt 1:23 in connection with Jesus’ birth, the Isaiah passage has been regarded since the earliest Christian times as a prophecy of Christ’s virgin birth. Much debate has taken place over the best way to translate this Hebrew term, although ultimately one’s view of the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ is unaffected. Though the Hebrew word used here (עַלְמָה, ’almah) can sometimes refer to a woman who is a virgin (Gen 24:43), it does not carry this meaning inherently. The word is simply the feminine form of the corresponding masculine noun עֶלֶם (’elem, “young man”; cf. 1 Sam 17:56; 20:22). The Aramaic and Ugaritic cognate terms are both used of women who are not virgins. The word seems to pertain to age, not sexual experience, and would normally be translated “young woman.” The LXX translator(s) who later translated the Book of Isaiah into Greek sometime between the second and first century b.c., however, rendered the Hebrew term by the more specific Greek word παρθένος (parqenos), which does mean “virgin” in a technical sense. This is the Greek term that also appears in the citation of Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23. Therefore, regardless of the meaning of the term in the OT context, in the NT Matthew’s usage of the Greek term παρθένος clearly indicates that from his perspective a virgin birth has taken place.”